On Moving, Marriage, and Death

I haven’t written anything honest and true for a very long time. Weeks. Maybe a month. And the silence feels like a lie. So the following isn’t a feel good piece, but it’s honest and for right now, that’s all I can offer. No, it’s what I need to offer.

How are we after the great big move away from ministry? Our kids are making it and making friends. Once we limited our 3-year-olds exposure to Inside Out we haven’t heard so much of the dramatic, “I miss our old house. I miss my friends. And I miss my school.” For the first five months I didn’t mind sharing a bathroom with six other people. I love the sunrises over the river and the runs downtown.

But we are dying over here. Like there is decomposition in our home—layer upon layer of death—and it reeks. I’m so shattered that I’ve stopped trying to collect all the pieces and sort of marvel that only seven months ago people asked me for advice. Most nights, I fall asleep to my own voice saying, “I miss our old neighborhood. I miss my friends. I miss our church.”

And I wake up and pretend that none of it’s true and that everything is alright.

Nathan has started dealing with regular seizures, most likely connected to an old brain injury, and has lost the ability to drive until we can get them under control. I’ve gone to work full time and watched the work-I-love-to-do fight to stay on my calendar…scraping at a few scraps of white space so that my soul doesn’t burst with the swelling of words.

Add to that the agony of fourteen years worth of marital junk deciding to unpack itself in the midst of our deconstructed home and perhaps you can smell the first layer or two of death.

In the middle of all that death, there is then the most inappropriate emotion—joy. Because when I’m not missing my friends and not dwelling upon the family we left behind and not feeling like it’s my job to breathe life into all the dead things around me, I remember myself. I once was independent… I once was capable… I once was involved in the lives of people in the most mundane and everyday ways… I once liked to drive with the windows down and the music loud while singing just slightly off key… I once ditched the have-tos for the want-tos and didn’t feel at all irresponsible… I once was okay that I hadn’t seen the surface of my kitchen table since I bought it, and that it looked just fine as a mail holder and a laundry folder… I once was alive and free…

And when I read that through once more, there are too many pronouns ‘I.’

I once was an I but am now a we.

And we are dying.

I wish I could pack up all the death and stuff the last six months into boxes and drive my truck in reverse across country and return to living ignorant of pending death. When I believed our adventure was an adventure and not an escape. When I was unaware that I can live among so many people and still feel so alone.

But I have more to remember: Fifteen years ago I stood before a man—a pastor whose church I attended and who was later accused of embezzlement and child molestation—and I decided to take a gamble on the words he shared. I decided his words were enough to move me forward. This man who was a vessel of death and corruption was also a vessel of life. Isn’t that the mystery—how death and life can exist in the same body at the same moment? Isn’t that the question of every person with a terminal diagnosis? That they are allowed so many more days or months while knowing there will soon be a final one?

And I decided I would say ‘yes’ to this God who likes to make dead things live. A God whose creativity is unlimited by the one thing that limits humanity. A God who gave us perennials as evidence of his ability. That yes was the first moment of forever, a trajectory of life for my soul while my body continued toward finality.

It’s a spiritual juxtaposition.

Life is so much more striking when viewed alongside death.

And maybe that’s what’s happening here. That the vitality I feel in the remembering of me is only so striking alongside the death of we. That in reality, it’s just another mundane day of driving and singing. It’s just another walk beneath the outstretched arm of summer as it tries to hold on. It’s just another white square upon the year 2016.

Maybe the struggle is that I’m the one trying to resuscitate the dying, when fifteen years ago, I confessed my inability to accomplish such a thing.

So I exhale. Breathe. Let my chest fall slowly. And for the first time I know mercy. For the next breath I take is undeserved—a gift of greatest proportions. And the only thing to do with a gift is to give. Will the gift be enough for we?

I’m counting on that gamble, that it’s backed by a promise.









8 thoughts on “On Moving, Marriage, and Death

  1. I always love your writing, but this especially touched my heart as I stare at the landfill of death in my life. I’m clinging (and going to therapy) to that same promise of a God who brings life out of death. Thanks for sharing. I am praying for a rebirth for your we– and for mine. Xxx

  2. Death of an “I” … death of a “we” … deaths of those loved who still fill memory. The seed that has fallen needs not mourn its past. Death begins growing, green like the grass.

  3. Marian, I’m nearby. Thanks for being honest. I’m often in Bath for my job: can I drop off a dinner or two for the whole gang one day?

  4. Thanks for the honesty, this was a truly Being Real moment! You and your family will be in our families prayers- Nathan knows that I will always have his back, I am just a facetime away!

  5. Oh, friend. I love you so very much! I’m sorry that you guys are hurting right now – I wish I could be there to treat you guys to some coffee and sweets and just talk. I’ll be praying for you. Hugs and kisses to you all!

  6. Marian – I appreciate your raw-ness and ability to lay it all out there. You’re not doing it as a “have pity or drawing” attention to yourself or your family, you’re just laying your heart out there.
    While reading, I’m reminded of 2 stories (my interpretation). The first story is of the woman with the issue of blood, that had been to every doctor and had done everything she was told/thought to do to heal her dying body…at the end of it all, desperate and knowing that doctors/herself couldn’t heal what was wrong she hears of Jesus and knows that He is the only one that can heal her. She could’ve been killed touching Him because she was “unclean” but she knew if she didn’t press through the crowd and just touch the hem of His garment she would die…so either way she would live or die. I love this story because she came to the end of herself, her ability, knowledge, understandings and knew she couldn’t revive and restore herself…and she knew and believed that all she needed was just to touch a hem of a garment.
    The next story I was reminded of what when Lazarus died, and Jesus appeared after 3 days. How the mourners looked at the situation and blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death, that He would have came when He was told of Lazarus being sick maybe he’d still be alive. How they laughed at Jesus when they heard Him say that “Lazarus was just sleeping” and that He called him back to life. Lazarus was made whole with one command from Jesus.
    Jesus is always there, He always comes…it may not feel like our timing but He is faithful. He has never changed, the same Jesus that we read about and know through the Bible is the same Jesus that is at work today. He wants to bring us to life in Him.
    I don’t know if you’ve heard of this song, but its a brand new song from Jonathan David & Melissa Helser called “You Came”…here are the lyrics:
    V1: You stood outside my grave / With tears still on Your face / I heard You say my name / My night was turned to day
    C: You came,I knew that You would come / You sang,My heart it woke up / I’m not afraid, I see Your face, I am alive / You came, I knew that You would come
    V2: You said death’s only sleeping / With one word my heart was beating / I rose up from my grave / My fear was turned to faith
    B: You are a miracle-working God / You are a miracle-working God / You are a miracle-working God
    O: You turn my fear into faith / You raise me up from the grave (2x)
    You came, yeah You came, yeah You came I knew You would come

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